This week’s Welcome 2 America is Prince’s third posthumous album to be released since his death in 2016. Perhaps most intriguing, however, is Originals, a collection of original demos of Prince songs later made famous by others. artists (Manic Monday, Love… Thy Sera done, nothing compares 2 U). A tantalizing glimpse into the artistic process of a restless genius.
Janis Joplin (1971)
Recorded quickly a month before his death and released three months after, Joplin’s second solo album captures both his striking vocal prowess and live electric energy. His cover of Cry Baby almost explodes under the weight of his passion, as Me and Bobby McGee slowly blossom from country hoedown to throat-bursting blues-rock.
I care 4 U
The mismanagement of the late R&B superstar’s legacy – you won’t find her songs on streaming platforms, for example – has been the cause of a lot of frustration for fans, so this bag of unreleased hits and songs gained in value. Well worth it for the banger produced by Timbaland, Don’t Know What to Tell Ya.
Dreaming of you
The Texas-born Latin superstar had started recording an English crossover album – a process interrupted when she was murdered in 1995, just 23 years old. Dreaming of You features songs from these nascent sessions, including the title track Madonna-esque and David Byrne’s assist Child of God (Baila Conmigo).
Mac Miller (2020)
Started as a backing track to the revealing 2018 album Swimming, Circles was completed after Miller’s death in 2018 by producer Jon Brion. While both albums speak candidly about the rapper’s depression, it’s the hints of hard-fought optimism that give Circles an extra jolt of tragedy.
J Dilla (2006)
Detroit producer and rapper J Dilla started The Shining from his hospital bed using just a digital sampler and a small record player. After his death from cardiac arrest in 2006, the album was completed by collaborator Karriem Riggins, sliding from soft neo-soul to a hollowed-out rattle.
After the death of rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez in April 2002, her band mates continued to work on their fourth album, using a mix of new Lopez verses and a cappellas of sessions for her solo albums. Despite her patchwork nature, her multiple strengths – from the soulful swagger of Girl Talk to the edgy R&B of Dirty Dirty – are augmented by people like Timbaland and the Neptunes.
Division of Joy (1980)
“This is the way, come in,” Ian Curtis sings on Closer’s opening, Atrocity Exhibition, its post-punk skeleton adorned with primitive percussion and sinister rock art flourishes. It sets the stage for an album that exudes claustrophobia, the sepulchral lyricism of Curtis augmented by the haunted production of Martin Hannett. Her exit came just two months after Curtis’ suicide.
From a basement on the hill
Elliott Smith (2004)
By 2000, Elliott Smith’s jet black lo-fi had been polished. He couldn’t hide his inner turmoil, however, with the stop-start sessions of his follow-up haunted by drug paranoia. Completed after her death in 2003, songs such as Pretty (Ugly Before) and Twilight show Smith’s ability to transform pain into something akin to beauty.
Life after death
The Notorious BIG (1997)
Biggie’s second and final studio album was released 16 days after his murder. A heavyweight double album, it zigzags between detailed bloody black (Somebody’s Gotta Die), feuding hymns (Kick in the Door), and, in the form of Hypnotize and Mo Money Mo Problems, lasting commercial highs.